01:26 GMT +323 October 2019
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    US President Barack Obama (L) speaks with King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia at Erga Palace in Riyadh, on April 20, 2016.

    Despite Opposition, US Senate Votes to Greenlight Massive Arms Sale to Saudis

    © AFP 2019 / Jim Watson
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    Both the US House and Senate have recently introduced bills aiming to block the latest $1.15 billion sale of Abrams tanks and other military equipment to Saudi Arabia, in a bipartisan move to prevent the US from assisting the Saudis in killing civilians in Yemen.

    Saudi Arabia has been criticized internationally for the high number of civilian deaths from airstrikes launched by a Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi political opposition faction in Yemen.

    Despite a high probability that the use of US munitions violates international humanitarian law, and contributes to instability in the Gulf region, the US Senate on Wednesday overturned a resolution blocking a $1.15 billion sale of battle tanks and ordnance to Riyadh.

    Citing Saudi Arabia's human rights record in the ongoing bombing campaign, Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Al Franken (D-MN), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) co-sponsored the bill to block the sale.

    The senators believe that Saudi Arabia continues to finance Islamic schools around the world that teach extremist versions of Islam and prepare students to join terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and Daesh.

    Murphy recently noted in a Twitter message that he had never before seen so many senators go on record as supporting a rethink of the US-Saudi relationship.

    A House version of the bill was introduced on Wednesday, co-sponsored by Representatives Ted Lieu and Mike Mulvaney.

    Saudi Arabia has been bombing the Houthis in Yemen at the request of exiled-President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi since March 2015. Numerous human rights organizations have repeatedly condemned the Saudi coalition for the high civilian death toll, partially as a result of the kingdom using cluster munitions, banned by an international treaty.

    The Obama Administration has sold more weapons to the Saudis than any other administration, drawing criticism on the US and contributing to the perception that America is directly financing extremists and participating in war crimes.


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